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zero-interest energy efficiency loans flourish in the U.K.

zero-interest energy efficiency loans flourish in the U.K.

Thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses in the United Kingdom will soon have access to expert advice and financial assistance to save them millions of pounds in energy costs.

A U.K. nonprofit will launch a program next month aimed at helping SMEs replace outdated equipment, such as lighting, air compressors, or cranes.

The Carbon Trust, set up by the government to help organizations reduce greenhouse gas emissions, estimates its Big Business Refit program to begin next month will reduce energy-related business expenses by as much as £40m (US$65 million). SMEs can also get free energy savings assessments and a custom action plan.

The Carbon Trust, founded in 2001, already helps businesses reduce their environmental impacts in a variety of ways, such as a product carbon labeling program, carbon surveys to help businesses reduce operational carbon footprints, sectoral best practices, workshops, certification, and new business incubation programs.

The resources come in the midst of an economic recession and tight credit markets, which have led to a rise in demand this year for the organization's zero-interest loan program, the Climate Trust said. The loans range from £3,000 and £400,000 for new efficient equipment.

"Businesses which replace old equipment now will be in a far better position come the end of the recession," Tom Delay, the Carbon Trust's chief executive, said in a statement. "Their cost base will be lower than their competitors and, with brand new equipment in place, they'll be more efficient."

That includes companies such as Hadleigh Castings Ltd., an aluminum foundry in Ipswich that borrowed £30,000 (US$48,711) to replace a large air compressor with a more efficient model that will save the company more than £11,000 (nearly US$18,000) annually.

Companies with fewer than 250 employees, less than £42m (US$68 million) in revenue, and electricity bills under £500,000 (US$811,000) are eligible for the Carbon Trust's zero-interest loan program.

Companies interested in zero-interest loans may visit the Carbon Trust's website.

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